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option4 Update #13 Feb 2002

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Cabinet Paper Presentation
February 2002

Dear [ subscriber ]

The Minister of Fisheries, Pete Hodgson, has presented his Cabinet Paper to the Cabinet Finance, Infrastructure and Environment (FIN) Committee. The full Cabinet Paper may be read on our site.

option4 is concerned this Cabinet Paper does not present the full picture to this very important Cabinet Committee. Without all the facts the FIN Committee cannot make fully informed decisions on the future of recreational fishing reforms. option4 still stands by its 4 principles of -

* Priority right over commercial fishing
* Planning right
* Area right
* No licensing

The FIN Committee has been told there is a "lack of clear guidance on what share of the available catch should go to recreational fishers versus commercial, and poor information to support that decision." Section 21 of the Fisheries Act 1996 is very clear - the Minister " shall allow" for recreational take before setting the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC). For full text of this section of the Act please read:

Better Information on Recreational Harvest
The Minister has instructed the Ministry of Fisheries to implement better information gathering strategies to improve the nature and extent of information on recreational harvest. To that end the following strategies are to be implemented.

  1. Double the frequency of Recreational surveys - from four years to two years - additional cost - $250,000 per annum.
  2. Require charter boats to report the nature and extent of their fishing effort - annual coat expected to be $250,000 - no mention of set up costs.

These strategies were put forward at the Ministerial Consultative Group phase of consultation. The feedback offered to Ministry is at odds to the strategies being recommended. The confidentiality conditions that the Ministerial Consultative Group was set up under make full reporting of policy proposals and subsequent recommendations unavailable. The Minister did assure us in the Ministerial Consultative Group that the strategy to require charter boats to report was definitely not a preliminary move to somehow or other bring charter operators into the QMS, as has been suggested as necessary by some submissions to the Soundings process. The full detail of these recommendations may be read at the option4 site in the Cabinet Paper Paragraphs 38-41.

The FIN Committee has been told there is "a low propensity on the part of recreational fishers to act collectively to protect their rights and promote their interests". Through your support option4 had 61,178 submissions to the Soundings process. There is unprecedented support from the public, NZ Recreational Fishing Council and the NZ Big Game Fishing Council. These submissions were ignored in the review process, which was seriously flawed in its recommendations. It is noted the response to the Aquaculture reform process was a total of 242 submissions. This is another good reason why option4 will continue to lobby the Minister on our 4 principles. We do have your support and continue to gather more supporters every day.

The Ministers perception of option4
Unfortunately the FIN Committee have also been told in the Cabinet Paper "option4 are a group of recreational fishers who formed in response to the Soundings public discussion process, specifically to oppose licensing and promote other options within the package". We do not agree with this statement. option4, as its very name suggests, is not about promoting other options within the package. It is clearly intent upon securing a priority right for the fishing public over the fishing industry. The area right and planning right we promote are quite different from Soundings proposals. Sure, we are not in favour of licensing, however to say we formed "specifically to oppose licensing" is false and unfair. At many of the public meetings we addressed we were quick to point out that licensing was a non-issue, licensing has nothing to do with your rights to fish. This opinion has subsequently been well aired and it is with some concern that we now read in the Cabinet Paper that this is how the Minister perceives the option4 initiative and all it stands for. For a refresher on the option4 Submission to Soundings.

MCG and Moyle's Promise
option4, NZ Big Game Fishing Council and NZ Recreational Fishing Council representatives were involved in the Ministerial Consultative Group (MCG) process from July-October 2001. There were 5 meetings in total. A great amount of time and effort went into responding to the Ministry's reform papers presented to the MCG. To date we have not had the courtesy of either acknowledgement of points made or relevance to current Ministry thinking.

The Minister had acknowledged we agree to continue discussions based on the principles contained in the National Policy for Marine Recreational Fisheries 1989 - otherwise known as "Moyle's Promise".

However the really important part of the promise, omitted from the Cabinet Paper to the FIN Committee, is " Preference will be given to non-commercial fishing in areas readily accessible to and popular with the public, where a species is not sufficiently abundant to support both non-commercial and commercial fishing." This will be the starting position, from option4's perspective, for continued discussions.

Timeframe to produce a new reform proposal
It is proposed that a new reform proposal will be put to the FIN Committee by 1st February 2003. There will then be a consultation with the public and results reported back by June 01, 2003. The concern is the short time available, 3 months, to consult with the public and report back to the committee. option4 would not want to see a repeat of the grossly inadequate public consultation phase of the Soundings process. More on this next month.

What can YOU do NOW?

  • The Fighting Fund needed to pay for both the Human Rights legal challenge and the fisheries scientist watchdog is steadily growing. Your financial support is vital. If you would like to support the fight for your rights and the rights of your children, please send your donation to:
    option4 Fighting Fund, PO Box 37951, Parnell, Auckland.
  • "Promote a Mate" - get stuck in and spread the word. I know this sounds repetitive, however, numbers are our greatest strength. One good thing about the prolonged nature of this debate is the opportunity to bring our friends and families up to speed before any real damage is done. https://option4.co.nz/promote.php

2002 will be the defining year for all concerned about our fisheries. It is also election year for all the Ministers and MPs involved in this process. There is much work to be done to secure our rights.

The option4 team

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